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The January 17, 1995 Hyogoken-Nanbu earthquake of magnitude 7.2 in JMA scale (Mw = 6.9), which struck Kobe, Japan and its surrounding area was the most severe earthquake to affect that region this century. The earthquake resulted in more than 6,000 deaths and over 30,000 injuries. Fires following the earthquake incinerated the equivalent of 70 U.S. city blocks. They together destroyed over 150,000 buildings and left about 300,000 people homeless. The economic loss as a result of this earthquake is estimated to reach $200 billion.
An investigation was conducted under the auspices of the Panel on Wind and Seismic Effects of the U.S.-Japan Program in Natural Resources to observe, document, and summarize important lessons from this earthquake that can be used to mitigate the potentially tragic impact of future earthquakes on modern urbanized communities. An 18-member team was in Japan from February 12 to February 18, 1995 to study seismology, geology, and geotechnical effects; as well as the performance of buildings, lifelines, and fire safety systems. This document summarizes the information collected during, as well as following, this investigation. Key findings of the investigation include needs for research and for improvements in practices to achieve earthquake loss reduction in the United States.
Details are included in the report, "January 17, 1995 Hyogoken-Nanbu (Kobe) Earthquake: Performance of Structures, Lifelines, and Fire Protection Systems (NIST SP 901)."